‘NIWA remains committed to Lagos-Tema regional ferry services’

 INTERVIEW
MD NIWA, Mr Danladi Ibrahim
                   
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has restated its commitment to starting a regional ferry service from Lagos, Nigeria to Tema in Ghana, since it disclosed plans of the proposed operation.

Managing Director of NIWA, Mr Danladi Ibrahim, in this interview, said discussions on the proposed regional ferry services had advanced with the investor and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, with hopes for approval by the transportation minister.

Ibrahim told OnepageAfrica that NIWA had continued to provide necessary infrastructure to boost inland waterways transportation, as evident in the completed river ports and those still being constructed.

He also talks on other important issues as they concern the Authority.



How far has NIWA gone with development of the river ports?

The Baro Port is completed and it will be a platform for operations to the North. This is important because it will ease cargo carriage on the Inland Waterways and for trans-shipment.

We are through with Onitsha, and the concession is going to be any moment from now. Lokoja Port is about 58 per cent completed.  The cargo handling equipment for Baro Port are going to be acquired from this 2016 budget; that means it is going to be an operational port at the time  the 2016 budget is implemented.

When you have these platforms, then you can carry cargo from Lagos to Onitsha to Baro. That means trans- shipment will be completed. We have also gone further to seek for private sector participation in the carriage of cargo from Lagos to Onitsha. There is a Chinese company called China Habour Engineering that is interested, and we have met with them and we are expecting their technical report to commence business.

How are you encouraging private sector investment in the sub-sector?

In order to set the pace for the private sector to invest and to encourage water transportation, NIWA has gone on to purchase about three ferries within the present administration. We have also added some security patrol boats to our fleet to also enhance the safety of cargo and passenger.

What is the latest development with respect to enhancing jetties?

Within the present administration, we have built about five new jetties in Pategi in Kwara , Lubego in Niger State, Umuasha in Nasarawa State and then Buruku in Benue State.

Enlightenment campaigns on safety for users of jetties?

We have a safety campaign programme that even covered Lagos. The essence is to sensitize stakeholders particularly the rural passengers, on the importance of safety on the waterways by insisting that life jackets be worn by every passenger. 

Also, we ensure that these vessels are not operated at night, because most of the boat mishap happens at night. And we have succeeded tremendously because the number of boat mishaps has reduced drastically, and we are continuing with that campaign. Our next port of call is Kaduna State and now we will be in continuance of the safety campaigns.

Security measures to protect passengers and cargo?

Security is an issue governed by international convention. It has given NIMASA the mandate to enforce. The ones that concern NIWA basically are about three terminals-Lagos, Calabar and Warri, and all of them are in compliance.

Right now, NIMASA has appointed a consultant to liaise with us and ensure that all our platforms are really secured in line with international standards. Just like the way you see our airports with screening facilities, that is how it is going to be in all the platforms.

What about your drive to enforce new regulations for water transport operators?

For now, the project pilot is Lagos. We have met with Lagos State Government in that regard and we are collaborating with them to have an effective enforcement. And after 60 days, we wish to commence our operations in this regard.

Tackling water hyacinths?

We have these machines in several of our formations but beside that, the water hyacinth menace is an international issue because these waste flow from other countries to Nigeria. We intend in this 2016 to have an international conference on how to tackle water hyacinths

What about training for NIWA staff?

We have been doing a lot of training. In fact, we have sponsored five people to be trained in the UK and so, we can boast of in-house marine surveyors.


On multiple taxation by both NIWA and State Governments

With the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) we have met with the Governor on how we can streamline these taxes and we are succeeding. And we are going to see the same replicated in other states.